“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
~ 1 John 4:7-8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
~ 1 John 4:7-8
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:9-13 ESV
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”
~ Song of Solomon 8:6
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
– Ephesians 5:25-33
45 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!
4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12 The people[b] of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.[c]
13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, the 5 love languages are:
Obviously, by their very nature, ANRs fluently speak four of these five languages, and the fifth can easily be incorporated.
Both parties get to serve the other. Contrary to what most ANR skeptics think, the woman is also greatly served, and some women in ANRs say the gift/pleasure is all theirs:
“he allowed his mouth to slip from my breast, and he thanked me for what I had given him.
But the pleasure was mine.
To be the woman who is blessed to nurture and nourish this gracious and loving man is a gift beyond compare.
He completes me.
Without S, I am only half of a person.”
“It’s very comforting. You come home and know your wife will be there for you. It’s comforting to both parties. And unlike sex where you can’t be distracted, with an ANR, you can watch a movie. I know that he’s not going to go anywhere and be tempted. I think that’s the comfort and appeal for women. My husband needs me. He needs to take of me, my essence, that’s where he gets his energy, his life and his everything, because I’m a part of him, we are one. I want to know that my husband needs me, not just wants me, needs me. Because I need him.”
– Christian female ANR aspirant with whom I very recently conversed
At the core of every healthy marriage is the ability of a couple to successfully communicate with one another. Communication can be difficult because each individual may have a different background, experiences, and sometimes even culture, which all affect communication. In addition, 60 to 90% of all communication consists of body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and tone rather than words. Communication is a skill that must be learned and practiced in order to have a successful marriage.
The Bible teaches us a great deal about communication, since God, the author of the Bible, is a communicator. When he created the heavens and the earth, he did it by communicating. He said, “Let there be light.” In fact, through nature he speaks to us every day. David said this:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
God speaks to us through nature, telling us of his great glory and splendor. He also speaks to us through his Son, who came to the earth not only to die for our sins but also to give us the Father’s words. In fact, John the Baptist called Jesus “the Word” (John 1:1); he was the very communication of God. Jesus said this about his teaching: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me” (John 7:16). And, ultimately God speaks to us through the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17). God is a communicator, and man, who is made in the image of God, is a communicator as well.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
What do you think Solomon meant when he said the power of life and death is in the tongue?
Solomon understood that as people made in the image of God, we similarly have power in our tongues. We have power to create and power to destroy. We can encourage people and lift them up with our words or destroy them with our words.
Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was very mistaken. Many people carry great hurt and pain from words spoken over them years ago. They were ugly, skinny, fat, not smart enough, not athletic enough, not social enough, etc., and that stigma stayed with them for years. In the same token, people who have had encouraging friends, family, and community typically are confident and hopeful. In fact, words spoken over people can even affect their destiny. James, the brother of Jesus, taught that even though the tongue is a small member of the body, it controls the body. It guides the body like the bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a ship (cf. James 3:1-6). There is a tremendous power in our words to give life or bring death.
The power of communication is especially important in the context of marriage. By our words, we can develop a beautiful and prosperous marriage that glorifies God. And, by our words, we can destroy the very gift and mission God has given us in marriage.
In this session, we will consider principles that will enhance communication in marriage. We will study the importance of growing in knowledge of your mate, honoring and accepting gender differences, always speaking edifying words, listening to your mate, and learning to remain in Christ.
The first principle that will enhance communication is simply getting to know your mate. Peter said this in 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” “Be considerate” can also be translated “dwell with them according to knowledge,” as seen in the KJV.
What type of knowledge must the husband develop in his relationship with his wife in order to respect and honor her? The husband must develop knowledge of his wife’s person. Each person is uniquely made. Things that bother the wife might not bother the husband. Things that excite the husband might not excite the wife and vice versa. There is often miscommunication in marriage simply because couples do not know each other well enough.
The husband must learn what makes the wife happy, what makes her sad, and what angers her and use this information to build her up and communicate with her better. Even though Peter speaks to husbands, this is certainly true for wives as well. In Greek, the word “know” typically refers to not just an intellectual knowledge but also an experiential knowledge. The husband and wife must know each other intimately so they can better communicate with one another.
How should they develop this knowledge? As Peter said, they develop it by spending time with one another (i.e. “dwell”). While dating, couples often spend as much time as possible with one another, but sadly in marriage, quality time starts to fade. The husband has work; the wife is caring for the house and children and possibly working as well. As the children get older, the husband and wife spend more time focusing on the children and less time on one another. As this rhythm continues, they eventually get to the point where they no longer know one another at all. These two individuals change every day and to continue to know one another intimately, they must make time for one another. This time could include yearly couple retreats, weekly date nights, and daily times of intimate communication. My wife and I try to spend at least the last hour of every day with one another, without the TV or computer on. By doing this, we aim to get to know one another better.
The more distant spouses become, the greater they struggle with communication. This is also true of pre-married couples. Courtship and engagement are very special seasons that help lay the foundation for future building. Couples who communicate well, know each other well. And those who don’t know each other well, don’t communicate well.
How is God calling you to strategically grow in intimacy with your mate?
The next principle necessary in marital communication is not only knowing your mate but accepting and honoring your mate as the man or the woman God made them to be. A common source of miscommunication in marriage is the simple fact that men and women are different. Not only does the opposite sex have many physical and emotional differences but communication differences as well, and these differences are often amplified in the marriage union. A great amount of fighting in marriage comes from not understanding and accepting these differences.
Many women grow up with a female best friend who they share all their feelings with, and in return, the best friend primarily gives affirmation. Men are typically more goal-oriented communicators. Communication is meant to accomplish something. Often male communication is used to decide where one is going, how to get there, and then what to do after getting there. It has a goal in mind. Whereas for a woman many times the goal is different. The goal could be as simple as expression, feeling heard and accepted.
Often women cry out, “Men!” And men cry out, “Women!” Both cry out in despair because they cannot figure out the other. The Bible teaches that God chose man and woman for one another. Eve was taken from Adam’s ribs and formed perfectly to match him. Though different, man and woman were made for one another, and when unified in a godly marriage, there may be no greater way in which they demonstrate the image of God (cf. Gen 1:27).
In creating man and woman, we can be sure God was aware of the immense differences that could cause conflict in their relationship. Therefore, he gave clear instructions in his Word about how to navigate the communication gap in order to have a successful marriage.
Again, the apostle Peter, a married man, said this in his epistle:
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7
Peter called wives the weaker partner (or weaker vessel) and commanded husbands to be considerate of them and to treat them with respect (or honor). What did he mean by the woman being the weaker vessel? Certainly, it means weaker physically, but it probably means much more than that. One interpretation is that weaker vessel has the connotation of more precious or more delicate vessel. Because the woman is more delicate than the man, he is more prone to hurt her physically, emotionally, and of course, verbally. For this reason, Paul commanded husbands to not be harsh with their wives (Col 3:19). Many times, the husband becomes harsh with his wife simply because of their differences—the different ways God made them. Therefore, Peter calls for husbands to not only be considerate of these differences but also to honor them (1 Peter 3:7). Though Peter speaks to the husband, the wife, certainly, must obey this as well. She must be considerate of her husband and the way God made him, and honor those differences.
As stated before, many men and women, instead of honoring the differences God created in the opposite sex, dishonor them and set out to change them. The man wants the woman to be more direct, to stop being so lady-like, and so sensitive. The woman wants the man to be more sensitive and to listen better. Certainly, there is much we can and should learn from the opposite sex. With that said, we must always “honor/respect” the unique differences that are rooted in how God created them. God made males and females different from one another.
Surely, as many married men do, Peter probably started out trying to make his wife more like himself. But Peter learned that God uniquely created women and those differences were to be honored. Therefore, this is an important principle to remember in marriage and one that God commends. Honor the unique characteristics of the vessel God created for you.
In my marriage, this has helped me tremendously. Where previously, I wanted my wife to change; I couldn’t understand or accept her thinking. I’ve learned to accept and honor her as the more delicate vessel. God made her different from me, and praise God for those differences. Instead of trying to change her, I am learning to daily accept and honor her more. I want her to feel the acceptance and joy that God has for her uniqueness. In addition, I’m also learning how much I need each one of those unique differences.
Pre-married couples should learn to accept the differences in their mate, to honor those differences, and to learn from them. Since God made the woman to help the man and the man to help the woman, they need to learn from one another. Learn how to honor those differences, and make your spouse feel accepted and honored for being who God has uniquely made him or her to be. This mutual honor will enhance communication.
Related to honoring our spouse, God makes it very clear that we should never dishonor him or her through our words. Watch any movie or TV show and you will see people disrespecting and dishonoring one another. Sadly, this often happens in marriages, in direct conflict with God’s commands.
Paul says this in Ephesians 4:29-30:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Through Paul, God commanded us to never let unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. This includes cursing, blaming, accusing, gossiping, lying, etc. All these are unfit for Christians to speak, especially in the context of marriage.
Paul also gives the positive directive of speaking “only” words that build the other up according to their needs (v. 29). In marriage, the majority of fights would never begin if couples spoke words that build up rather than tear down.
Psychologists have affirmed a useful method to aid in this process called using “I statements” instead of “you statements”. When a wife says, “You never listen to me!” and “You don’t care about me!” This automatically makes a husband feel attacked and go on the defensive.
Instead, it is suggested that we use “I statements” such as: “When you start talking before I finish sharing, I feel like you’re not listening to me.” “When you watch TV all night, I feel like you don’t care about me.” This is simply giving information, instead of accusing one of personal wrong. And, it opens the door for evaluating these feelings instead of fighting. This is a great tool that will help one speak only words that edify, especially when dealing with a potentially sensitive topic.
In conjunction with speaking only words that edify, Scripture also gives us further teaching about healthy communication. James, the brother of Jesus, said, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
In order for a person to only speak edifying words, they must master the art of listening. Here are a few tips to aid in becoming a better listener. One should:
It has often been said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk. This is a wise principle in communication. We must practice listening.
Something that will help with this is practicing “active listening.” We do this by repeating what our spouse said in order to get confirmation. For instance, one could say, “This is what I hear you saying, you feel neglected when I watch TV all night. Is that correct?” By repeating, you get to clarify your spouse’s words and intentions. You also show him or her that you are trying to understand, which is important in communication.
Many times, there is more communicated by what a person is not saying than what is actually said. Communication is between 60 to 90% nonverbal. Sometimes, just the fact that a spouse is quiet may say a great deal. It may say he is not feeling well or he has more to talk about. This is something a good spouse will learn to discern. Study your spouse’s body language and tendencies in order to enhance communication.
God wants to give us wisdom to minister to the uniqueness of our spouse. He knows our spouse in a greater way than we do. Therefore, we should practice praying, even sometimes during conversations, so we can hear what God wants us to hear and say what he wants us to say (cf. Neh 2:4-5). James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Of course, in order for a person to clearly listen to his spouse and God at the same time, he must learn how to talk less. Solomon said this in Proverbs, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking” (10:19, NKJV). In many relationships, people talk way too much and, therefore, listen way too little, which leads to constant arguments. James said we should be quick to listen and “SLOW TO SPEAK.”
As mentioned, Scripture gives us many principles about communication since our God is a communicator; however, with that said, one must realize that understanding these principles is obviously easier than putting them into practice. The Bible teaches that not only do we need God’s wisdom but also God’s power to communicate well because of our propensity to sin. Jesus said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
These principles can only be successfully applied to a pre-marriage or marriage relationship if the people involved are walking closely with their Savior and abiding in his presence. When you remain in Christ, God will give you the fruits needed to be successful. These fruits include patience, self-control, love, forgiveness, and even the right words to say. Remaining in Christ is the secret to fruitful communication for both spouses.
How do we remain in Christ? Remaining in Christ includes, but is not limited to, disciplined prayer, Bible study, regular church attendance, serving, repentance of sin, and simply put, drawing near to Christ daily. By remaining in Christ, we recognize our inability to communicate well, and how, apart from his grace, we will destroy what God has given us. And for those who humble themselves daily before God, they will find great grace to communicate in marriage (cf. James 4:6, 10).
As we consider communication in marriage, we must remember God is a communicator and we are made in his image. Therefore, we are made to communicate. As we rely on God, through practicing principles in his Word, we can begin to use our communication to build our marriages instead of breaking them down. And, by his grace, we can start to realize his original plan for marriage—a union that brings glory to him and is a blessing to all.
Answer the questions, then discuss together.
1. What was new or stood out to you in this session? In what ways were you challenged or encouraged? Were there any points/thoughts that you did not agree with?
2. Peter said to dwell with your spouse according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7, KJV). What intimate knowledge about your mate have you discovered that is especially helpful when communicating? What intimate knowledge about yourself would help your mate better communicate with you? How will you continue to cultivate this intimate knowledge in the marriage relationship, especially when life becomes busy with work, kids, ministry, etc.?
3. It is very common for couples to have communication problems in part because of gender differences and gender expectations. Are there any common miscommunication patterns in your relationship that may come in part from gender differences? How does a miscommunication often begin and what are its triggers?
4. What changes can be made on your side to better navigate these miscommunications? What spiritual or practical techniques will be used to enhance communication?
5. What ways have you experienced the importance of abiding in Christ for communication? How will you protect and cultivate an abiding relationship with Christ? How will you help protect and encourage this abiding relationship in your mate?
6. Write your parents a letter, an email, or give them a call to ask questions. Ask what positive attributes you possess that will help in marriage. Ask what negative attributes you possess that might hurt your marriage and find out how you can fix them. Ask for any pointers that will aid in achieving successful communication in marriage and a successful marriage in general.
7. Write your mate’s parents a letter, an email, or call them and ask them questions. Ask what positive attributes does your mate possess that will help in marriage. Ask what negative attributes does your mate possess that might hurt your marriage and find out how you can fix them. Ask for any pointers that will aid in achieving successful communication in marriage and a successful marriage in general.
8. After completing this session, how do you feel God is calling you to pray for your marriage? Spend some time praying.
* This article was copied from Bible.org
True love suffers. Love entails vulnerability.
The Latin word for wound is vulnus, from which we derive ‘vulnerable.’ Similarly, passion means to suffer. Suffering in Latin is patior, from which we get the English word ‘patience’ and ultimately ‘passion.’ It’s the vulnerability ANR creates that scares people away. The intimacy is too much for them to handle. Man likes to love on his own terms and be in control.
Human beings fear love. Thank God for perfect love that casts out fear.
Sex isn’t about learning skills or being gratified, but about loving a person. Putting their needs above yours.
I sometimes get anxious and try to micromanage my future sex life. “What if she won’t do this or that?” I often ask myself.
Now I’ve realized that it’s not about me “getting mine” or being focused on my own pleasure. It’s about me putting my needs and desires aside in order to prioritize hers, and serve her like Christ served me on the Cross. And if there’s any nagging desire that might lead to an unhappy marriage, such as unfulfilled ANR longings, I’ll simply talk it out before saying “I do.”
45 My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
3 Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
4 And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
8 All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.
9 Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.
10 Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;
Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;
11 So the King will greatly desire your beauty;
Because He is your Lord, worship Him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift;
The rich among the people will seek your favor.
13 The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace;
Her clothing is woven with gold.
14 She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;
The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.
15 With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought;
They shall enter the King’s palace.
16 Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons,
Whom You shall make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations;
Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.
“Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”
– Romans 16:16
“All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
– 1 Corinthians 16:20
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
– 2 Corinthians 13:12
“Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:26
“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”
– 1 Peter 5:14
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth
It’s about loving a person, not a body part or a particular sexual activity.
I’ve been convicted recently of occasionally focusing a little too much on specific body parts, which means I’m setting myself up for disappointment if my future wife doesn’t meet my ideal. In my determination to be faithful to her, I must be open to whoever God brings, as long as she meets most of my preferences.
If you have a specific type of woman, be sure to only date that type. Be 100% sure you want to pursue a woman and that you love her regardless of bra size or body type.
Sandwiched between “let your fountain be blessed” and “let her breasts drench you at all times” is “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.” We need to keep things in context. Scripture is always about loving a whole human being.
Besides preaching the gospel to him and the things of God in general, the most loving thing a woman can do for a husband is to nurse him. I feel this way because it’s not something physically necessary. Sure, men feel loved when their wives give them plenty of sexual action but sexual intercourse is very necessary for both spouses, and not only for procreative reasons. But a man does not need to drink his wife’s breastmilk. This is precisely why I think husband breastfeeding is the second most loving thing a woman can do for her man.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 ESV
“And the two shall become one flesh”
5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Getting married soon? Or maybe you’re already married and looking for some encouragement?
My favorite part of the article:
5. SEX IS IMPORTANT…LIKE REALLY IMPORTANT
I seriously can’t touch on this point enough! (I’m actually thinking about writing an e-book on the topic of sex in marriage, so let me know in the comments what you think!) Thanks to guidance from God, improving our sex life has been the #1 marriage enhancer out of everything else we have changed. It ranks higher than learning how to communicate better, establishing roles in the home, and even figuring out our love languages. Why? Because turning up the intimacy in our marriage has improved all those other topics I listed as well!
And I’m not talking about being more adventurous or having longer sex. No, nothing like that. We just changed our attitudes toward sex, discovered what the other person truly needed through hard conversations, and kept it a priority. We WERE NOT in a good place intimately during the first part of our marriage, and everything else suffered because of it. However, since making this change in the last quarter of our first year, EVERYTHING else has changed as well!
2Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
3Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
4Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
5I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
6Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
7Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
8If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
9I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
10Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
11We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
12While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
13A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
14My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
15Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.
16Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
17The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.
“A gracious woman gets honor.”
– Proverbs 11:16a
A woman who is gracious enough to nurse her husband is honored by the LORD.
Couples Nursing is honorable.
I had planned to post an article listing my reasons for wanting an ANR but my co-author’s post was a catalyst.
So what are my reasons?
Not gonna lie, the kink factor/sexual gratification is definitely a big one for me, and I’m sure most male readers could relate. There’s just something about full, productive, milky breasts that’s wildly erotic and sensual; it would certainly turn me on in marriage.
Honestly, I think it’s a delicious relationship.
Also huge is the otherwise unattainable intimacy. I’m a firm believer that husband and wife should be as intimate as humanly possible, so I’ll do anything imaginable to optimize the intimacy level in my marriage, as long as our attempts at intimacy don’t lead to sin. I’ve already thought up some other ways to be closer than close to my wife. Remember, extreme intimacy is the love language I speak.
Then there’s the bond and permanent sense of connection. She would literally become part of me. I would carry some of her everywhere I go.
Of course what I do to her is important to me as well. It’s an amazing way to have my wife feeling biblically feminine, productive, beautiful, needed, servant-hearted and sexually fulfilled.
Plus the effect it’ll have on my marriage, the feeling of oneness. The symbiotic relationship. The joy and stability everyone reports that it brings to marriages and as a commenter posted, the fact that it’s beautiful and sacred.
Thinking of it draws out something I feel is buried, something in me that just thinks it’s so special, I feel it’s a long-lost bonding act: humble masculinity meets glorious, divine femininity.
Dangerous, destructive behavior in marriage is frequently treated with ‘kid gloves’. Too often it’s not taken seriously until it’s too late. Where do you stand? Have you gotten comfortable with certain behaviors in your marriage that used to be called ‘sin’?
Question: Could you stand up in a room and say, without embarrassment, “We’re not perfect but even so, I encourage you to follow our example in marriage?” Are you modeling the marriage you desire your children (who are watching you and taking notes) to enjoy when they get married?
A godly couple can say this, in part, because of what’s missing from their marriage. Sometimes it’s good when certain things go missing.
Here are 10 that have no place in a godly relationship:
1. A Sharp Tongue
So much damage in so little time . . . that’s the result of the unbridled tongue. It can be easy to cut with words when things don’t go our way but, in a godly marriage, neither spouse yields to this ungodly impulse. (James 3:8)
2. A Good Memory (when it comes to offenses).
A good memory can be very bad. After we repent of our sins before God, He doesn’t then commit them to memory so they can be thrown in our faces the next time we need to repent. The Bible says that God forgets our sins. When we repent and ask forgiveness of each other, that sin should never be referenced again. Remembering and repeating past wrongs will prevent the true fellowship that always follows true forgiveness. We are called to forgive as God has forgiven. (Col. 3:13)
3. A neglect of the Bibilical order in marriage.
In today’s culture, it’s practically hate speech by now but if you desire to have a marriage ordered according to God’s structure and standards, read and live by Ephesians chapter 5. The perspective of the culture we’re surrounded by – the ‘world’ the Bible calls it – is that Biblical teaching on the subject of order in marriage is old, outdated . . . even inappropriate, for our modern era. But God disagrees and though some things may be hard to understand, going against the culture as they do, God would have us remember, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
4. A lack of care for how each other is doing.
Godly love engenders a genuine concern for one’s spouse – not merely concern that is felt but concern that is expressed in meaningful ways. We may feel deeply but, our spouse is not a mind reader. Communicating that love is as easy as, “Hey, how are you doing . . . really?” Love is kind. (1 Cor. 13:4)
5. A short temper or being easily offended.
Godly couples are slow to become angry. Do you have a short fuse, instantly become angry at a variety of provocations large or small? That’s your flesh talking. That’s sin. (1 Cor. 13:5)
6. An unwillingness to sustain difficulty.
Godly couples have settled in for the long haul. Remember the old vow, “In sickness and in health?” Godly love bears all things. The pilgrimage is chosen by God. We are called to be faithful in it, even if the way is hard. (1 Cor. 13:7)
Pride says, “Notice me, talk about me, and focus on me.” The first thing you’ll hear or notice from a godly spouse is, “It’s not about me.” A godly spouse rejoices in the triumphs, achievements, and attentions received by his/her spouse. (1 Cor. 13:4)
8. A tearing down of one another.
Godly couples are busy . . . too busy lifting each other up to have the time to tear each other down by speaking negatively to others.
9. Thinking less than the best of each other.
Godly couples love first and ask questions later. They assume the best of the other person. (1 Cor. 13:7)
10. Taking pleasure in each other’s failings.
Love doesn’t rejoice when someone sins or falls, but rejoices in the truth. (1 Cor. 13:6)
It’s easy to get busy with life and treat marriage like it is something that is happening to us, instead of something we are doing. Maybe you’ve removed all of these negative, sinful behaviors from your marriage. If so, great! But, if not, take responsibility for what you are bringing to the relationship and take action to ensure these things are “missing” from your marriage – at least for the part of the relationship God entrusted to you . . . your part.
My own summary to Matthew’s excellent article: let your marriage preach the gospel through and through.
Why do you desire an ANR? This is a question you must ask yourself before seeking one.
Many people read stories from others who have one. They then decide that they want one for themselves.
Many are not familiar with the challenges of having one. This not something you do when you feel like it.
So ask yourself. Am I doing this for mutual love? Am I doing this to build an unbreakable bond with my spouse?
If your answer is yes to the above then you will succeed. If you are pursuing this for another way just to get off. You will fail.
My beloved put his hand through the keyhole.
My heart throbbed for him.
– Song of Solomon 5:4
My. Beloved. Put. His. Hand. Through. The. KEYHOLE. That had me like “ 😃 Ooooooooh, thank you Jesus! Please, won’t you please send me my dear Mrs. soon, so I could love her sacrificially… and um, put my hand through the keyhole, among other things?”
Despite reading the Song before, I never caught this until I began posting the book here two weeks ago, as the words “through the keyhole” seem specific to the God’s Word version and a few others. I mostly use the ESV, which states “My beloved put his hand to the latch.”
The NIV is a little more explicit:
“My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening.”
And the KJV:
“My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”
“My beloved put his hand through the key hole, and my bowels were moved at his touch.”
No matter how one looks at it, the point is clear: God is no prude, unlike many professing Christians. Boy am I glad He doesn’t shy away from being graphic, yet He does so in a way that’ll go over the heads of most kids.
Here’s the verse in context (Douay-Rheims Bible):
“3 I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?
4 My beloved put his hand through the key hole, and my bowels were moved at his touch.
5 I arose up to open to my beloved: my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers were full of the choicest myrrh.”
Married Christian men, be nice to your wives – expecting nothing in return, of course. Side effects of such wife-focused grace include putting your hand – and other things – through the keyhole tonight.
If only you were my brother,
one who nursed at my mother’s breasts.
If I saw you on the street,
I would kiss you, and no one would look down on me.
2 I would lead you.
I would bring you into my mother’s house.
(She is the one who was my teacher.)
I would give you some spiced wine to drink, some juice squeezed from my pomegranates.
3 His left hand is under my head.
His right hand caresses me.
4 Young women of Jerusalem, swear to me
that you will not awaken love
or arouse love before its proper time!
The Young Woman’s Love for Her Beloved
[The chorus of young women]
5 Who is this young woman coming from the wilderness
with her arm around her beloved?
Under the apple tree I woke you up.
There your mother went into labor with you.
There she went into labor
and gave birth to you!
6 Wear me as a signet ring on your heart,
as a ring on your hand.
Love is as overpowering as death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave.
Love’s flames are flames of fire,
flames that come from the Lord.
7 Raging water cannot extinguish love,
and rivers will never wash it away.
If a man exchanged all his family’s wealth for love,
people would utterly despise him.
The Young Woman with Her Family and Her Beloved
8 We have a little sister, and she has no breasts.
What will we do for our sister on the day she becomes engaged?
9 If she is a wall, we will build a silver barrier around her.
If she is a door, we will barricade her with cedar boards.
10 I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers.
So he considers me to be one who has found peace.[a]
11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon.
He entrusted that vineyard to caretakers.
Each one was to bring 25 pounds of silver
in exchange for its fruit.
12 My own vineyard is in front of me.
That 25 pounds is yours, Solomon,
and 5 pounds go to those who take care of its fruit.
13 Young woman living in the gardens,
while your friends are listening to your voice,
let me hear. . . .
14 Come away quickly, my beloved.
Run like a gazelle or a young stag
on the mountains of spices.
Song of Solomon 8:10 In Hebrew there is a play on the words “peace” (shalom), “Solomon” (Shlomo), and “the young woman from Shulam” (Shulamith).
[The chorus of young women]
7 How beautiful are your feet in their sandals, noble daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like ornaments,
like the work of an artist’s hands.
2 Your navel is a round bowl.
May it always be filled with spiced wine.
Your waist is a bundle of wheat enclosed in lilies.
3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are like pools in Heshbon, pools by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like a Lebanese tower facing Damascus.
5 You hold your head as high as Mount Carmel.
Your dangling curls are royal beauty.
Your flowing locks could hold a king captive.
Solomon Longs for the Young Woman’s Affection
6 How beautiful and charming you are, my love, with your elegance.
7 Young woman,
your figure is like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters.
8 I thought, “I will climb the palm tree
and take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters on the vine.
May the fragrance of your breath be like apples.
9 May your mouth taste like the best wine . . .
. . . that goes down smoothly to my beloved
and glides over the lips of those about to sleep.
10 I am my beloved’s, and he longs for me.
11 Come, my beloved.
Let’s go into the field.
Let’s spend the night among the henna flowers.
12 Let’s go to the vineyards early.
Let’s see if the vines have budded,
if the grape blossoms have opened,
if the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes give off a fragrance,
and at our door are all kinds of precious fruits.
I have saved new and old things
for you alone, my beloved.